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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

40. Not Heaving from My Ribb’d Breast Only

NOT heaving from my ribb’d breast only;

Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself;

Not in those long-drawn, ill-supprest sighs;

Not in many an oath and promise broken;

Not in my wilful and savage soul’s volition;

Not in the subtle nourishment of the air;

Not in this beating and pounding at my temples and wrists;

Not in the curious systole and diastole within, which will one day cease;

Not in many a hungry wish, told to the skies only;

Not in cries, laughter, defiances, thrown from me when alone, far in the wilds;

Not in husky pantings through clench’d teeth;

Not in sounded and resounded words—chattering words, echoes, dead words;

Not in the murmurs of my dreams while I sleep,

Nor the other murmurs of these incredible dreams of every day;

Nor in the limbs and senses of my body, that take you and dismiss you continually—Not there;

Not in any or all of them, O adhesiveness! O pulse of my life!

Need I that you exist and show yourself, any more than in these songs.